SEC extends sports hiatus until April 15; SWAC cancels spring seasons

Published 5:34 pm Friday, March 13, 2020

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The Southeastern Conference on Friday announced that all athletics activities, including competitions, team and individual practices, meetings and other organized gatherings, will be suspended through at least April 15, due to continuing developments related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The SEC had previously suspended all competition until March 30. That has now been extended through April 15 and expanded to include all organized team activities.

SEC athletics programs were to cease practices, individual and team workouts effective at the end of the day Friday, March 13. Team meetings shall conclude no later than 5 p.m. local time on Monday, March 16.

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At Ole Miss, the Grove Bowl spring football game and surrounding festivities including the Chucky Mullins Award ceremony and the M-Club Spring Weekend, have been postponed. The Grove Bowl had been scheduled for April 18.

he Southwestern Athletic Conference, meanwhile, announced that all winter and spring sports activities have been canceled through the end of the academic year amid concerns about spreading coronavirus.

The league had previously suspended competition through March 30 and canceled its conference basketball tournament. The new cancellations include all remaining games in baseball, softball, track and field, tennis and golf.

Several Division II and Division III leagues also suspended competition on Friday.

The Division II Gulf South Conference suspended all athletic competition, countable athletic related activities, and off-campus recruiting for an indefinite period of time.

In a statement, the GSC office said the decision was made after thorough collaboration between the conference office, university presidents and chancellors, and the league’s athletic directors.

Mississippi College and Delta State are members of the GSC.

On Thursday, the Mississippi College athletic department announced that they would continue playing a regular schedule with limited attendance, but Friday’s announcement by the GSC takes precedence.

“The unsettling events of this week have taken us to decisions and actions that were unforeseen and lead into a territory that we have not traveled before,” Delta State athletic director Mike Kinnison said in a statement. “The GSC suspension of all athletic activities and the NCAA decision to cancel all postseason championships directly impacted our winter and spring sports.

“These decisions meant the end of season and competition for some and uncertainty for others,” Kinnison continued. “While there are questions still to be answered, we acknowledge those decisions were made in the best interest of the health and welfare of all our student athletes and fans.”

In Division III, the American Southwest Conference and Southern Athletic Association suspended competition. The ASC, which includes Belhaven University, canceled all conference athletics competition and championship events for the remainder of the 2019-20 academic year.

“Today is the worst day I’ve ever had in coaching. Losing a National Championship didn’t compare. Having to tell my team that our season has been canceled is gut-wrenching. This group is THE MOST TALENTED team in my 10 years at Belhaven. We were going to open eyes nationally,” Belhaven softball coach Kevin Griffin wrote on Twitter. “I appreciate the hard work each of them put in daily. They are a joy to be around and this team will always be remembered. We don’t understand or agree with decisions to cancel everything, but this program will be a force to be reckoned with next year.”

The SAA includes Millsaps as a member, and will shut down for the season on March 20.

Berry College swept a baseball doubleheader from Millsaps on Friday, 13-2 and 10-6, in one of the final games of the season. Millsaps and Berry are scheduled to play one more game in their baseball series, Saturday at 11 a.m. in Jackson, with a restricted attendance policy.